#31 When You Don't Want To Love Anymore
ride the wonder wheel
Hello friends! The last time I was here I was chatting about my bad lungs, since then I’ve been obsessed with a new hobby, golf! I started several puzzles and never finished them, listened to Azealia Banks.
A little over a month ago I was in The New York Times !! To everyone who read it thank you for allowing a small piece of my roller coaster life in your brain. It means the world to me, I have received every message and I’m grateful and looking forward to sharing more stories soon. Thank you to all new subscribers and supporters who continue to keep really bad taste alive.
My mother’s response to the article was a very immigrant response. She is more impressed that it was in print. The internet means nothing to a Black woman in her 60’s. She held back tears, still believing she should be tough for me the way she was when I was a little girl.
Very proud of you Chris, did you show your father?
I was starting to feel grateful for her shitty wi-fi.
Mom, I can’t hear you.
Chatting with my dad on the phone is interesting, he tells me about his workout routine, which seems to be what takes up a lot of his time, he sends me emojis and pictures of him boxing along with a text of encouragement:
Chris this is me in the gym. you wanna box? you have to stay alert. Remember not to let people play you, knock them out.
I’ve noticed our conversations are usually about his adventures, and I like it that way, I haven’t always been good at telling him what I’ve got going on.
I got off the phone with my mother, faking a dropped call, and I nervously drafted a text.
hey, Dad grab a paper I’m in the New York Times.
Hey just checking on my old man, do you still read the paper, I’m in it!
I never sent the text. I get in my head about my dad, I overthink when it comes to him.
See there is a list of things that I’ve inherited from my dad
A hell of a right hook
I don’t care what anyone thinks or says about me
And an ego
In recent years I’ve tried to shame some of those parts of me because those parts are what got him in trouble those parts are what allow judgment from the world. It’s so much easier upholding respectability politics, letting everyone believe you’ve outgrown the projects and poverty, you’re a writer now a mom, you can’t act any old way people are watching, and if you show just a bit of who you are anywhere it will be perceived poorly. We project onto others our desire for approval and external validation, we care about what others think of us so that means they should as well.
And because we are in a world full of “writers” chronically online thinkers, and people who pass around James Baldwin quotes, we now can use language to express emotion, all while we care about what others think because everyone is watching and all the other boring stuff our therapists tell us.
But I’m teetering on a see-saw where I can’t let go of my right hook because it’s saved me growing up it’s let people know not to mess with me. And I can’t start caring about what others think of me because I’ve been through so much in life, and I’m grateful for the mess I’ve experienced, it didn’t create sensitive skin but a skin that sheds when I need it to, a skin that turns into a uniform and no one’s words can undress me. I don’t need to care about what others think I have my storms and acres of stories that fight those battles for me.
You don’t think fighting is the answer?
Well, it is a privilege to have been able to grow up and not express physical language there is a privilege to not have stories as tall as monsters that once scared you yet now stand up for you instead. I don’t think I will be able to shed that from who I am. And I am not there in my life yet, as much as Instagram and my work create that illusion for me. I can look at the things I’ve inherited and choose what serves me best for where I am in life.
But I will be honest, a thing I don’t need right now that I’ve inherited is my ego.
I usually don’t want to love when I’m angry,
I don’t want to love when I feel unsettled
I don’t want to love when I’m confused
I don’t want to love when I’m frightened
I don’t want to love when I’m wronged
I keep a distance from my emotions when it comes to my father, maybe because I’m afraid to be let down, and god forbid If I show kindness, if I show some sort of warmth, I believe it will challenge my self-worth. It will war with my ego. It will show that I lost and that I’m weak. I texted him ‘Hey let’s meet up’ an informal text you’d send to a friend, not a father.
let’s go to Coney Island tomorrow
My father is spontaneous in this way.
we can ride the Wonder Wheel
the red car
I had no interest in taking the D train nor the Q but I grabbed the newspaper rolled it up and decided to take a ride to the world’s most infamous amusement park in Brooklyn New York. The last time I was on the Wonder Wheel I was a kid, and we were running from something, immigrants and their secrets I’ll never know why we were running.
My dad plopped me on the seat of the train headed to Stillwell Ave. He tried to distract me from the sweat running down his brow and his labored breath, making me laugh playing hand games with me, and showing me old magic tricks that never got old, even though I knew the secrets to them. I knew something was wrong but I was comforted by his laugh, that man has a great laugh, it can crack the smile of every over-worked and stern-faced person in a full subway car. I was going to Coney Island I was going to get cotton candy and funnel cake, and I was going to ride the greatest Ferris wheel in the world, the Wonder Wheel.
My adult self thought about this memory, I hate big attractions in New York, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Coney Island, you know places that tourists love. But I gave my dad grace, I thought it was the way he knew best how to connect with me, through moments we shared when I was a child.
I had lost so many years with him, losing him to the prison system when I was a pre-teen to not being around him again until I was eighteen years old.
We are trying, trying to repair what has been taken from us. Angry as to why I don’t have that flow of conversation with him the way I do with my mother, she and I talk like a small creek our laughs leading to a stream then a river flowing into a bigger body of water, an ocean. And by the time we look at the clock hours have passed us by. Conversations with my father however don’t flow, there is a dam that hinders us.
My dad thinks my favorite color is still red like how it was when I was 8.
I don’t want to love when I feel like a stranger.
I texted my dad
Hey Dad I’m here, just got off the train.
No response, he’s probably on the train too.
I bought my ticket walked around and then went to stand in a busy line for the Wonder Wheel. I began to let people go in front of me. I started to get frustrated, I got angry and disappointed. Did my dad just flake on me and the Wonder Wheel?
I don’t want to love when I’m impatient
I could feel my ego becoming overpowering, I didn’t allow any more people in front of me. I could’ve just left, but I got in the red car with three strangers.
I remembered the excitement as a kid, remembering how my dad had calmed down and how safe we felt going up looking over the city and looking down below at all the people who looked like ants, how powerful we felt trying not to think about how we won’t have this same feeling once we’re back on the ground, that feeling of invincibility, people like us aren’t awarded that superpower due to our race and class. I was trying to search for that moment and feeling with strangers as we went up in the sky.
I get a text from my dad in the air as I’m holding onto the rocky red car I’m in.
I begin to laugh. An uncontrollable laugh. The man next to me smiles, as if he wants in on my joke.
“Sorry, I’m an idiot forgive me.”
He tries to take a peek at my phone still curious as to why I’m laughing,
“Oh no it’s okay”
I pull out the paper.
“No one reads the paper anymore”
“you’re right unless they’re in it.”
Everyone in the car is screaming as we rock back and forth and then drop.
I shake my head, still having the giggles. I hate heights, My dad doesn’t know that I grew up to hate heights.
I don’t want to love a stranger.
“I wanted to give it to my dad, I was gonna read it to him.”
“He didn’t show up?”
“I never gave him a time on when to meet. I just left my house.”
The stranger starts to laugh. I also do not believe this stranger was a New Yorker he was too interested in my life.
The text read:
Hey Chris you never gave me a time, I can be there in an hour.
For a moment my ego didn’t allow room for my own flaw in miscommunication or my opinions of my father. I had trapped him in my need for his approval, creating resentment, and now I was trapped on the wonder wheel laughing at how I was ready to give my dad my right hook.
I was so in my head, so afraid to see what he would think about my piece made up a number of stories about him telling myself how I don’t owe him any of my time.
I didn’t want to love him anymore.
I wanted to go back and forth with him and explain how if he followed up then maybe I wouldn’t be rocking back and forth on a 100-year-old Ferris wheel. I felt annoyed with myself that I wanted to shift blame where there was no blame to center.
If I had let my ego win there, it would have left no room for self-awareness. Sometimes our desperation for approval from others whether our parents, our friends, or the internet, can keep us on a Ferris wheel of self-doubt and low self-esteem. I needed a big production to show him my work and my accomplishments so much that I had put myself on a wonder wheel of emotions, a loop, a ride that I didn’t even want to be on in the first place.
Sorry about that, I want to show you something let’s plan a lunch, no wonder wheel.
I don’t have any experiences or memories of my dad in my adulthood, I have him locked away in old memories that don’t define him anymore, but I do have him with the things I’ve inherited.
The Wonder Wheel trapped me in the air, showing me there is nothing to fight and there is nothing to blame, my ego doesn’t really work during a ten-minute ride of invincibility. I guess I needed that day of funnel cakes and cotton candy to confront myself and investigate why the praise I had received from loved ones, friends and strangers wasn’t enough. And while I stuffed my face with the best funnel cake still laughing at my ridiculous circumstance…
I got permission from myself that it’s okay to love during moments when I normally would choose my ego, it won’t make me weak, and I won’t lose parts of who I am. And If I choose the traits, if I choose to fight, I choose to not care about what others think, that it’s okay, I won’t allow shame around it, I won’t allow seeking external validation to be more important than what I’ve inherited.
I’ll save my right hook for worse days.
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